Reflections on Trans-Siberian SARA # 2

unknown 2-2014-09-07at19-04-14 Sara notes about Trans-Siberian Railway
People slept everywhere on the train: in the aisles, between the carriages, literally on top of each other.

This is the second blog entry (the first one I wrote on my laptop but since then have never managed to get Internet on it in order to send it... Bringing the laptop was a waste of space!)... Before giving up on the blog idea completely... Here is the 2nd entry:

I took the Transiberian train for 87 hours from Moscow to Irkutsk leaving on August 4th. Spent 3 nights in Irkutsk (lake Baikal) then took another 45 hour Transib from Irkutsk to the boarder town of Zabaykaslsk (32 hours train and 13 hour stopover in Chita) arriving in Zabaykaslsk on August 13.

Essential Pack-List for the Transiberian Train:

1/ Tea or cup-a-soup (if you want a saltbombe): hot water is provided FREE on the train.

2/ Flip flops: the train is relatively clean but you are not "aloud" to wear bare feet and you probably want thongs for the toilet.

3/ Yoga mat: everyday there are 3 or so 20 minute stops and with your trusty Yoga mat you can do yoga on the platform (don't worry about the funny looks from the Russian passengers).

4/ Dictionary: there are a lot of Russian passenger and many will talk to you in Russian even if you don't understand. My train had an estimated 512 passengers (4 2nd class carriages each with 32passengers and 8 3rd class carriages with 48passengers each) and of that 7 foreigners. I had to walk down 2 carriages to find the first foreigner.

5/ Food: if you are going in summer take food that can withstand 35 degree heat... Milk is not recommended.

6/ Money: small amount of money to buy things like ice cram or wild blueberries (for €1) from locals at the passing stations.

7/ Good book: looking out the window at the beautiful scenery is nice BUT not for 87 hours :)

8/ Stamina: be ready to have to profusely refuse the offers at vodka (for breakfast!!!) from your Russian carriage mates.

9/ Earplugs/iPod: The 3rd Class carriage can best be described as a hostel room except rather than the typical 8 beds there are 48. Earplugs or an iPod come in handy to block out snoring, baby crying or late night vodka drinking.

10/ Watch: the train stops occasionally for longer periods... Good to know how long you have so that the attendant doesn't get worried about you (I made the mistake of getting on a different carriage and when I came back she was not so happy).

The Transiberian railway train is highly recommended. It is a cheap and interesting way to travel through Russia and meet locals. It is however for the Russians just a means of getting from A to B and they are very surprised by the fact that tourists travel all the way to Russia 'just' to go on a train!